Written By: Fee Naaijkens
On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, HFTP’s hospitality start-up pitch competition Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) took place in Europe for the first time at HITEC Amsterdam. Each participant had four minutes to pitch their business concept, followed by four minutes for the expert judges panel to ask questions. I did notice that most of the start-ups were evolving around one (or more, in some cases) of three main hotelier-focused goals.
Using Wi-Fi as “A Means to an End”
This is exactly how Carlos Gomez, CEO of Cheerfy, described it when I talked to him after his pitch. Cheerfy identifies guests through their Wi-Fi connections and identifies their consumer preferences from social media. When a guest is connected to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, it detects when they are entering the property or hanging out in the lobby, gym or restaurant, and sends them personalized recommendations in texts.
Roomatic and Reputize are also using Wi-Fi to connect hoteliers with their guests during their stay, and to help hotels manage their guest experience and online reputation. With both of these tools, hoteliers can find out if their guests are not satisfied with their experience — while they are still at the hotel, and before they turn to the Internet to leave a negative review. After connecting to the hotel Wi-Fi, customers are rerouted to a landing page where they are asked to provide feedback about their stay. Roomatic alerts the hotel staff to negative feedback, enabling them to resolve the issue then and there. Reputize also pushes reviews to partners such as Google, TripAdvisor and HolidayCheck.
Bring your Data to Life
Singapore-based start-up GuestSense consolidates multiple data sources including guest, review and social data to help hotels identify opportunities to increase revenue, improve the guest experience and drive higher review ratings through real-time guest insights. They do this by removing the grunt work from data analytics through AI and machine learning methods so hotels can concentrate on making important decisions backed by data at any point in the day.
Upsell, Upsell, Upsell
Max Shepherd-Cross, from HotelFlex, confronted the audience with a simple question: Why don’t hotels upsell their rooms with an early check-in? Who has not arrived at their destination in the early morning, knowing their hotel room would not be available until after 1:00 p.m. or even later? HotelFlex automatically sends an email to upcoming guests offering them rooms that have been checked out of early. I bet there are plenty of HITEC Amsterdam attendees who would have been willing to pay more for their room if it meant they could have checked in Tuesday morning!
Stay Delighted combines upselling with reputation management. It enables hoteliers to quickly recommend relevant products and services through text messages. Guests both receive vouchers and are asked to provide feedback, so that hoteliers can take appropriate actions.
Digitalizing Daily Operations
The need for daily operational solutions is still high in the hospitality industry.
AskPaul is a digital HR assistant. It lets employees track their hours, it organizes shifts and it handles absence management and payroll accounting. CEO Marc Stratmann claims it can cut down the time hotel and restaurant owners normally spend on these activities by 20 percent.
Flowtify focuses more on digitalizing hygiene and safety operations. It sends staff members automatic notification reminders about important tasks like checking the freezer temperature, and lets them add photos of how products should be stored, for example. Flowtify also informs hotel managers if something is not done correctly.
And then there was HYRE, E20X Judge’s Winner of HITEC Amsterdam 2017. Eropa Stein, founder and CEO of HYRE, explained how her company connects event organizers with event staff online, cutting out the agencies. How do hotel organizers know if these employees are qualified? Stein signs up event staff after having them do a five-minute test in which they demonstrate their skills. Through the platform, event organizers rate staff, and vice versa. By eliminating the need for third-party agencies, event staff get paid more for their work, and hotels pay less for the service.
All-in-all, a great first Entrepreneur 20X European edition, if you ask me! Looking forward to finding out who got most of the votes from attendees, via the HITEC 2017 app (download via the Apple Store or Google Play), and will be the winner of the E20X People’s Start-up Award on Thursday.
Fee Naaijkens is the industry manager for the Netherlands and Belgium at Trivago, a leading global hotel metasearch, helping travelers to find their ideal hotel for the best price. Follow Trivago on Twitter (@trivagoHM_nl) and Facebook.